Final installment of ‘Voices for the Children’ set for Monday - Nine compete for top prize at fair

Page News and Courier

LURAY ― Nine local singers will take center stage on Monday during the grand finale of the “Voices for the Children” competition.

Sponsored by the Caverns Shrine Club, the finalists from Page County and surrounding areas will vie for a shot at a top prize of $1,000 during the final installment of the six-part, monthly series.

Since kicking off in March with a showcase event, 18 singers have competed each month, rotating between Luray and Page County high schools. Audience voting began in April, before the first round of eliminations ― determined by both audience voting and a panel of judges.

Proceeds raised through the events benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children. The network of 22 nonprofit medical facilities across North America provides treatment to children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal chord injuries and cleft lips and palates. Each patient is provided services at no cost, regardless of the patient's ability to pay.

Since 2005, the local Shrine Club has contributed about $200,000 to the hospital network.

Throughout the competitions, local shriners have used the stage to spotlight the personal stories of those who have benefited from Shriners Hospitals for Children, including Shenandoah 6-year-old Liam Weber.

After seeing a story published last month in the Page News and Courier about Liam, the Luray club reached out to Liam's mom, said 25-year Shriner and event organizer Jerry Dofflemyer of Luray.

Liam underwent his first surgery as an infant after he was born with bilateral clubfoot, a condition in which both of Liam's feet are rotated internally at the ankle.

Following years of treatment at the U.Va. Medical Center in Charlottesville, Liam began traveling to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Greenville, S.C., to undergo treatment that involves placing braces on each leg. The treatment is an alternative approach to a surgery that would require breaking Liam's right hip, said Liam's mom, Elizabeth Weber.

Weber counted the medical treatment — which the Shriners Hospital provides at no cost to all patients — as a blessing, but struggled to pay for travel expenses to and from South Carolina.

Local shriners are now providing the Shenandoah family with transportation, said Dofflemyer, as well as paying for food and lodging expenses during those trips.

“Liam is a great example of what Shriners Hospitals do,” Dofflemyer said. “When you see stuff like that, that makes it all worthwhile.”

During last month's installment of the Voices for the Children, Weber spoke to the audience about the importance of the children's hospitals.

“He's just an awesome kid,” Weber told the Page News. “He's had to go through a lot of setbacks, but he doesn't act like it bothers him at all.”

During Monday's finale, local shriners hope to welcome as special guests Liam and other families who have been helped by Shriners Hospitals.

The grand finale kicks off at 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 21, as the night's grandstand event at the 65th annual Page Valley Agricultural and Industrial Fair in Luray. The event will feature two rounds of singing, with contestants performing their first selections before audience voting. Finalists will return to the stage to perform a “greatest hit” ― a song they performed at a previous installment ― as Shriners determine four winners based on audience and judge votes received throughout the competition.

Grandstand admission is $5 for adults, $3 for kids 6 through 18 and free for kids five and younger.

All proceeds will benefit the Caverns Shrine Club and its longstanding mission ― “having fun and helping children.”

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